Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mark 1:35-39 NRSV  35 In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.  36 And Simon and his companions hunted for him.  37 When they found him, they said to him, "Everyone is searching for you."  38 He answered, "Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do."  39 And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

  My wife’s family used to say that stubbornness was in their DNA and I have no doubt that’s true. I witnessed this stubbornness at family reunions when money needed to be exchanged. One person would try to pay another back for something. The “payee” would not take the money under any circumstance. This resulted in cat and mouse game of the “payer” hiding the money in the “payee’s” purse, car, etc.  The “payee” would find it and then hide it in the “payer’s” purse, car, etc. Both were stubborn to get their way.

  In this week’s text we meet a stubborn Simon (Peter).  Jesus has gone off to pray. Simon is determined that Jesus is going to return to his house and heal the people that continue to come for healing since the night before. Jesus had healed Peter’s mother in law and the news traveled quickly and all night they came. Jesus had to get away. I can’t imagine how tired he must have been.

  In the NRSV it says that Simon “hunted” him down. This Greek verb “is very strong, usually used with a hostile intent” (Mary Ann Tolbert). Simon hunts him down as if Jesus had forgotten what he was supposed to do. He was going to get Jesus back on task on make him do what he was supposed to do. Jesus says (my words) “You don’t get it. I came to proclaim the Good News not be a wonder worker. We must go and proclaim my message everywhere.”

  This won’t be the first time that Peter tries to make Jesus into his idea of a Messiah instead of letting Jesus be the Messiah he was sent to be.

  Are you stubborn?  Are you trying to make Jesus into what you want him to be not the Messiah he is meant to be?

Monday, February 20, 2012

What is Lent?

This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.  We will celebrate it here  at McEver Road by the imposition of ashes. Imposition means I will mark each person’s forehead with ashes in the sign of the cross. As I do this I will repeat the words, “You are dust and to the dust you shall return. Repent and believe the gospel.”

Lent is an important time in the church year. It is the time of year we reflect on our own mortality as we travel to the cross. Just as we cannot have Easter morning without Good Friday, we cannot be prepared for Easter without our time in the wilderness.

Where does the concept of Lent come from?
At Jesus’ baptism the sky split open, the Spirit of God, which looked like a dove, descended and landed on Jesus, and a voice from Heaven said, “This is my Son, My Beloved, with whom I am pleased.” Afterward, as told in Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus hiked into the wilderness. Maybe he needed some time with God to sort through the major changes happening in his life. Maybe he was searching for direction and answers. Maybe he needed to get away from family, friends and the familiar routine in order to see God, and himself, more clearly. For whatever reason, Jesus retreated into the wilderness for forty days to fast and pray.  Lent is 40 days for us to fast, pray, and reflect as we make our way to the cross and resurrection.

What does Lent have to do with me?
It’s pretty easy to get caught up in the drama of work, school, relationships and family. Our lives are filled with distractions that take us away from living a life with Christ. We try to fill the emptiness inside us with mindless TV, meaningless chatter, stimulants, alcohol or other things. We run from silence because we’re afraid of being alone with God. So, like Jesus, we need to take some serious time to pray and figure out where God is in our lives, and where God is calling us to serve. We need to re-focus our lives to be more in line with God.

How do Christians celebrate Lent?
Normally we give up something. However, this year instead of giving up something (which often becomes self-serving), I ask you to add something. I am asking you to devote some time each day to a quiet time with God. Do not be afraid of being alone with God. It is in the time spent alone with God that we become closer to God and understand more about ourselves. This is a time that can truly life changing. Pick up a copy of the Upper Room or other devotional guide that your church may offer and use it for a time of daily reflection.

Make sure to join us in the main sanctuary at 7:00PM this Wednesday the 22nd for our Ash Wednesday Service. We are located at 3606 McEver Road in Oakwood. 770.532.3160. The service is come as you are.